I’ll start with this. Justice League is good. Not great, but good.
I certainly enjoyed this more than I did Batman v. Superman or Suicide Squad. However, this still has some serious problems as a film. It is a step in the right direction, though. Should we be using that line? “A step in the right direction” meaning that it is not as bad as you thought so it is good. I’m not sure that is fair.
Either way, there are things I liked about Justice League. In fact, most anything that directly involve the League members is pretty good. I would go as far as to say that the interactions between the characters is the best part of this movie.
Diana (Gal Gadot) is still one of the best characters here, despite being less than she was in her own movie. The scene near the beginning of the film where she saves a group of people from terrorists intent on blowing up several blocks of a city was tremendous. I love seeing super heroes being super heroic and Wonder Woman is a perfect example of that.
Ezra Miller, though I doubted that I would like him, was really good as well. He was the comic relief and most everything humorous about him worked. I have heard that Flash is a divisive character- that you either love him or hate him. Put me in the love him category. This Flash is different enough from Barry Allen from TV to make it worthwhile. Ray Fisher as Victor Stone aka Cyborg was someone I did not think I would like either, but I thought his character was really awesome… maybe even the best of the characters in the film. I did not like the look of Cyborg at all though. I though his CGI was terrible on him and did not improve until the very end of the movie.
They had some good secondary characters. Jeremy Irons as Alfred and JK Simmons as Commissioner Gordon were solid and I enjoyed the use of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) as well. Diane Lane was back as Martha and she had some nice scenes.
This next section is a spoiler….. so SPOILER
The return of Superman(Henry Cavill) is perhaps my favorite part of the film. I would have liked it if there was more of an arc to the story involving Superman, but this was the Superman that should have been here the whole time. When the newly alive, but not quite right Superman fights the other Justice League members, I was engaged. Unfortunately, the movie brushes over Clark’s return and makes his comeback less emotional than it should have been. However, I was really afraid that we were going to get another “Martha” moment, and the film avoided that, so there is that. In the end, I really liked the Superman we got here. END OF SPOILERS.
The film had a more fun feel than the other DC movies of late. You can tell that there was some kind of edict that Warner Brothers had given to make their super heroes less dark and gritty. I am not saying that it is on the level of tone of Marvel, but it is distinctively different than previous DC movies. Honestly, if they continue this tone, which still had some darkness to it, they might have more success.
Now, there are still lots of issues here. The story is very thin, and actually seems very much like The Avengers. There is a disposable feeling to this film. It is not an epic film that one would think of when they think of a Justice League film.
One of the biggest problems with the Justice League has to do with Superman. The film wants you to believe that the world is mourning Superman and that they really miss the beacon of hope that he was. The problem? We had never seen this Superman in the DC Cinematic Universe. In Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, we saw a dower and depressed Superman because the world looked upon him as an alien that was a problem, and a danger. Not the heroic super hero that inspired a generation. This, I think , is another example of why they needed a Man of Steel 2 before this film so they could have transitioned Superman from the emo Superman into the person beloved by the world.
I did not like the way the character Aquaman (Jason Momoa) was shown here. I had some high hopes for Aquaman, but I just did not enjoy his character. I had little reason to cheer for him. The whole section with Mera (Amber Heard) felt like a scene that was wasted.
I thought they went too far to the other side with the character of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). They tried to make him quippy, but most of his quips did not work. This was a solid portrayal of Batman, but I did not like his Bruce Wayne.
However, easily the worst part of this film was Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). I hated every moment that character was on the screen. He was nothing more than a giant CGI character… and a bad looking CGI character. It was Green Lantern Paradox bad. He had no characterization, no motive, no traits. Anyone complaining about Marvel villains should never make that point gain. Steppenwolf was one step above the Enchantress from Suicide Squad. As much as I was enjoying the interaction with the Justice League members, the Steppenwolf moments were as bad as anything that we had seen.
I don’t know why DC movies feel the need to have the “everything is red” background in their final CGI fights. It looks terrible. B v S did it. Suicide Squad did it. Even a good movie like Wonder Woman did it too. It is like the world has to be an apocalyptic flavor to it for DC to end a movie. Admittedly, I liked the final act of this movie, but the look of the film was just so reminiscent to the other films.
The story of Justice League has gone through many twists. Zack Snyder, who is still listed as the director on this, had to leave the project because of a family tragedy, and Joss Whedon, comes in to finish it. He oversaw many reshoots and rewrites. They had to cut a chunk of the movie when WB mandated that the film come in under 2 hours and it was reportedly 2 hours and 45 minutes. Every other day there is a story about Ben Affleck wanting to get out of the Batman role. For the amount of melodrama involved with this film, it is impressive that there are positives to it at all.
And there are many positives to Justice League. In fact, it is a fun movie that is mostly entertaining. The missteps do not ruin the movie and the iconic heroes are well done, if not simplified.